Review Summary: All these wasted years.
(Edit: by accident, I reviewed Somewhere BACK in time. :p)
At this point, Maiden could of gone down in an awful fashion. The group had previously released five albums from the years of 1980 - 1984, and had gone out on a high note: considered some of the defining metal albums of all time, and some of the most fresh. Their live album, Live after Death
, was and is considered one of the best live metal albums ever. At this point, it could only take one screwup for Maiden to fall. But Maiden was not done yet. And thus, there was Somewhere in Time.
Their sixth album took things a little differently. They mixed their usual brand of hard rock / heavy metal together with synthesizers. This electronic takeon gives a more futuristic sound to Maiden's 6th release, though it uses no enhancers on Dickinson's vocals, a wise choice. This album had hit home with the charts, scoring a position at #3 in the UK. The Somewhere On Tour was incredibly popular, making it one of their most successful tours yet. Although this doesn't recapture the brilliance of the early days (and let's be honest, not a whole lot of Maiden albums will), Somewhere in Time is a great expansion in the band's discography.
Somewhere in Time
feels kind of like one big journey through time. A bulk of the songs tend to be about time travel in past lives or futuristic times. It is by no means a concept album, but it is like A Matter of Life and Death
, the themes are rigidly consistent. Therefore, a whole lot of material feels different.
The album holds up well in terms of instruments as well. Where the synthesizers fail in parts, the straightforward instruments pick up considerably. The guitar riffs are more distorted and melodic than past. Take the intro solo of "Wasted Years", or the solo of "Alexander The Great". The drums do not pack the same energy as they did crushing through Powerslave
, but the pace picks up as the album continues, building up considerable speed and originality. The bass, on the other hand, takes very little time to build, Steve Harris showing off some of the bass work of his career. Whether it be straightforward or has a catchy riff, or if Smith uses a wah, each instrument shows off the power that continues to hold up for several years.
The album, however, holds up numerous small flaws, instead of a couple major flaws. There are numerous minor bugs to some songs, like the consistency of "Deja Vu", or the special effects that can be used throughout (though the bass synth and guitar synth holds up well), but there are two big ones. One is a poor choice of song length. Alexander the Great stretched on far too long, and could of been shortened down considerably. Each track varies in length, the shortest being five minutes. Some solos are too long, or some too repetitive for its own length. Another is the undeniable filler: The four extra tracks and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
could of been slashed without caring.
But this is still Maiden at the top of their career. At this point, Maiden could of gone down into the ground if they released an awful album. But this otherwise proved that the band still went strong, and could of been why their fanbase didn't abandon them altogether (when Metallica released St. Anger, for example, the fans caused riots for that) when No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark